Dogs can detect ovarian cancer's specific scent, researchers from the University Hospital in Goteborg, Sweden, have found.
However, it's not clear whether they respond to the cancer itself or odors associated with cancer.
The finding was made in a research, which explored whether ovarian cancer has a scent different from other cancers and whether working dogs could be taught to distinguish it in its different stages.
Ovarian cancer has a high mortality rate, primarily due to late diagnosis. Recent studies have shown that dogs have successfully detected cancer through scent, however, it's not clear whether they're responding to the cancer itself or odors associated with cancer.
The researchers, led by Gyorgy Horvath MD, PhD, from the University Hospital in Goteborg, Sweden, along with colleagues at Working Dog Clubs in Sweden and Hungary, trained dogs to distinguish different types and grades of ovarian cancer, including borderline tumors.
They found that the odor of ovarian cancer does seem to differ from those of other gynecological malignancies, such as cervical, or endometrial cancers, suggesting that a particular, distinguishable scent is associated with ovarian cancer.
They additionally found that early-stage and low grade ovarian cancers emit the same scent as advanced tumors.
"Our study strongly suggests that the most common ovarian carcinomas are characterized by a single specific odor detectable by trained dogs," write the authors in the article.
"And while we do not believe that dogs should be used in clinical practice, because they may be influenced during their work, leading to changes in the accuracy rates, still, under controlled circumstances, they may be used in experiments to further explore this very interesting new property of malignancies," they added.
The study is published in the journal Integrative Cancer Therapies.